Originally released 15 years, Step Off was one of the most consistent releases from one-of-a-kind post-punk art-funk band ESG. Now decked out with a new cover by artist Alice Hannah, the seminal album is being reissued tomorrow by Fire Records.
The band -- Renee Scroggins (lead vocals), Valerie Scroggins (drums), Marie Scroggins (congas), along with Chistelle Polite (guitar) and Nicole Nicholas (bass) -- make music that defies easy categorization. Spanning the worlds of dance music and early hip hop, the tunes of ESG remain vibrant and vital. "Be Good To Me" opens things up with a languid groove of the sort that bands as diverse as The Gossip and The Rapture echoed, while the peppy "Talk It" rides a hook that is hard to shake. Elsewhere, the spry "Six Pack" bounces with a lightness of touch that shines a light on how easily the ladies here take to this sort of thing, while the buoyant title cut is a more focused rhythmic affair.
Step Off isn't a long record but it is, like most of what ESG has produced, an essential release. Funky and fun, the music of ESG is so simple and yet so precise that it would be hard for another act to ever quite copy this sort of thing. The charms here are ones that would be difficult to entirely successfully mimic. But the real thing here on this seminal ESG album is something all music fans should embrace.
This fine new reissue of Step Off by ESG is out tomorrow via Fire Records.
[Photo: Alice Hannah]